Things Hoped For (Andrew Clements)

In Things Not Seen, the prequel to Things Hoped For, a young adolescent boy (Bobby) suddenly, for no explainable reason, goes invisible. Eventually he returns to his normal self physically, but he is forever changed as a result of his time spent unseen.

Suddenly Bobby is 18 and now prefers being called Robert. His new friend Gwen has run into some massive trouble of her own. Her grandfather has suddenly vanished without a trace, and Gwen struggles with worrying about him and the pressure of her upcoming auditions for college music scholarships. She quickly learns that Robert is the best friend she can have when dealing with things not seen.

Another winner by Clements, but it's a bit more mature (not rated R or anything) than his previous works.

I Stink! (Kate and Jim McMullan)

The "stinky" main character in this book is the garbage truck, who explains what he does and why he is so important to people. The dialog is a bit choppy at times (some pages have only "Hopper's full. Hit the throttle. Give me some gas. Rev me to the max."), but it would be great for boys, and for teaching kids about the importance of sanitation crews in our society. At one point, he goes through the ABC's of the garbage he gets to eat, which is filled with boy humor. (D for dirty diapers, P for puppy poo)

Scarlette Beane (Karen Wallace)

Scarlette Beane is all about the vegetables.

Born to parents who love to garden, Scarlette has a face "red as a beet, and the ends of her fingers were green." She is constantly surrounded by carrots, parsley, tomatoes, beets, turnips, cucumbers, and onions. Even her baby mobile has veggies dangling from it!

Her mother tells her constantly that she will do something wonderful with her life. Sure enough, one day Scarlette wakes up and her garden has produced vegetables that are enormous enough to feed her whole town. She continues to grow giant veggies until she builds her parents a castle made of vegetables ("with turnip turrets, a drawbridge held by corncobs, and a cucumber tower on each corner") and her mother tells her that she knew all along that Scarlette was going to do something wonderful.

In this fast food nation we inhabit, it certainly is awesome to see a book about vegetables. When I watched Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution a few months ago, I was shocked that most children in that particular school district could not identify even the most basic vegetables. Scarlette Beane really does put a magical, positive spin on the world of vegetables. When I was reading this with my own child, her first comment after we closed the book was to ask for a there you have it!

Red: Seeing Red All Around Us (Sarah L. Schuette)

This is a very basic book all about the color red. Several red items are shown, with simple sentences describing the red items (ex: Red has flashing lights and horns. -sentence describing a red fire truck). also on each page is a more in-depth explanation of the red things.

2 cool facts from this book:
-Strawberries are the only fruit whose seeds grow on the outside.
-Licorice candy is actually made from the root of a licorice tree.

From Little Acorns...A First Look at the Life Cycle of a Tree (Sam Godwin)

In this brief book, two little squirrels help explain the basic concept of an acorn's development into a tree and the cycle of that tree producing more acorns.  It is fantastic for giving the first introduction to life cycles in general.

Interesting facts we learned from this book:
-It takes 30 years for an oak sapling to mature into an oak tree.
-It takes 40 years before the oak tree begins to produce acorns.
-The flowers on the oak tree, which produce the seeds, are called catkins.

At the conclusion of the book, the author once again provides a looped illustration of the life cycle of the oak tree, and also provides further resources for exploration on this topic. Great resource!